Norwalk overwhelms Clyde in second half to advance

Truckers (24-1) face Perkins (21-3) for third time Saturday.
Mark Hazelwood
Mar 6, 2014

Clyde was right where it wanted to be.

And in a span of two minutes, it was over.

The Fliers trailed Norwalk just 32-31 two minutes into the third quarter of Wednesday's Division II district semifinal at Mansfield Senior High School. But the Truckers (24-1) went on a 12-0 run in a 2:07 span to help turn the game into a 74-45 blowout.

With the win, Norwalk advances to Saturday's district championship and will face Perkins (21-3) for a third time this season.

(NOTE - To see pictures from the game, click HERE.)

Clyde (16-8) trailed just 30-27 at halftime, and were within 32-31 two minutes into the third quarter before the Truckers blew the doors off.

"That's sort of what we do. I think our pressure at times wears some teams down a little bit," Norwalk coach Steve Gray said. "You make a mistake, and we have the ability to turn it into two points really quick. I challenged the kids at halftime, I thought we were in trouble. We didn't play the way we were capable and i give a lot of credit to Clyde for knocking down shots.

"They surprised me a little that they wanted to play at a little quicker tempo, but I told the kids Coach (Ryan) Carter would put them in a position to be successful, and I don't know if they listened to me."

Kaleb Cashen started the run off a nice feed from Jeff Thomas, then Thomas was fouled and hit a pair of free throws to make it 36-31 in favor of the Truckers.

Then, it quickly got out of hand.

Jordan Johnson got a steal and a layup, then Ben Haraway sandwiched another Johnson steal and layup with a pair of transition baskets of his own. In just 2:07, the Fliers went from a 1-point deficit to down 44-31, which included three turnovers.

"I was proud of our kids for the way they played, but Norwalk made some plays in that third quarter both offensively and defensively," Carter said. "They took some things away that we were doing in the first half and then were able to score in transition, and that's what they do.

"They are a very good team that is well-coached and has lost three games in three years," he added. "It was them making some plays and some shots, and really it was all transition. That's how they play and they've done that to a lot of people."

Norwalk jumped out to a 21-14 lead after the first quarter, closing the opening eight minutes with a 15-6 scoring run. But the Fliers battled back in the second, as the Fliers closed the first half on 13-7 scoring run with two baskets from Colin Gregory and a 3-pointer from Derek Gray early in the third quarter, the Fliers got a pair of baskets from Gregory and Eric Wiseman to sandwich a Ben Haraway score and pull Clyde within one, but then the Truckers went on one of their patented runs and the game got out of hand.

Jeff Thomas capped the third quarter with a pullup jumper from the left wing at the buzzer to make it 54-38. The basket also allowed Thomas to pass Jim Gregory (1986-89) for second all-time in career points at Norwalk. Thomas now has 1,251 career points.

"We're at the point of the season where you can't trap and double team — and do stuff you did in the regular season," Gray said. "All these teams have now played 24 or 25 games, they all scout and all have good players. Clyde was just the opposite of what they did on film. They really attacked us and went back door and really did a great job tonight."

In the fourth quarter, the Truckers outscored Clyde by a 20-7 margin to push the lead out to 30-plus points.

"I thought we had opportunities, and took their best punch early on and was able to keep it close," Carter said. "I'm proud of my kids. I know we lost and it was a big margin, but they played with a lot of heart, but we just didn't make enough plays in that third quarter and that was the difference.

"We knew we were going to turn the ball over some, what we were really trying to stay away from was turning it over for layups and dunks for them," he added. "If we were going to turn it over, I wanted it to be north and south, not east and west. I think we did that in the first half, but not in the second half. And when you do that against them, it's two points the other way."

Haraway led all scorers with 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and added four assists. Thomas had 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Johnson and Breck Turner each scored 10 points.

For the Fliers, Dristan Cook connected on four 3-pointers and scored 14 points, while Derek Gray added 10 points and Rieman scored nine.

Steve Gray was asked about a third meeting with the Pirates Saturday. Norwalk beat Perkins in the regular season, 66-59 on Dec. 17 and 77-68 on Feb. 8.

"We're in a situation where Saturday night we need to sit down and defend and pray like heck Perkins misses a few shots," he said. "They are really good and Scott (McVeigh) has done a great job with them. But our kids have an ability to defend and there are no secrets between each other, and it will be a great game Saturday night."

 

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